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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NYU Announces Overhaul of 3L Curriculum

NYU Logo 2New York Times:  NYU Law Plans Overhaul of Students’ Third Year:

There is an old saying that in the first year of law school they scare you to death; in the second year, they work you to death; and in the third year, they bore you to death. The usefulness of the third year of study ranks high among the growing chorus of complaints — which includes soaring tuition and a glutted job market — about law schools.

New York University School of Law is now trying to address those questions about the utility of the third year. On Wednesday, the school is expected to announce an overhaul of its curriculum, with an emphasis on the final two semesters.

The move comes as law schools are being criticized for failing to keep up with transformations in the legal profession, and their graduates face dimming employment prospects and mounting student loans.

NYU Law’s changes are built around several themes, including a focus on foreign study and specialized concentrations. Some students could spend their final semester studying in Shanghai or Buenos Aires. Others might work at the EPA in Washington, or the FTC. Another group, perhaps, will complete a rigorous one-year concentration in patent law, or focused course work in tax. ...

“There is a growing disconnect between what law schools are offering and what the marketplace is demanding in the 21st century,” said Evan R. Chesler, the presiding partner of the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore and a trustee of NYU Law. “The changes we’re rolling out seek to address that.”

There has been much debate in the legal academy over the necessity of a third year. Many students take advantage of clinical course work, but the traditional third year of study is largely filled by elective courses. While classes like “Nietzsche and the Law” and “Voting, Game Theory and the Law” might be intellectually broadening, law schools and their students are beginning to question whether, at $51,150 a year, a hodgepodge of electives provides sufficient value.


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This is a positive development. I doubt very much whether curtailing the third year would produce better prepared law grads; less mature and more anxious probably, but not better. Most efforts to make the third year more useful--and dare I say it, relevant--have focused on clinical studies. Clinical focus is positive too, but I haven't heard much about a more structured elective regime or foreign study. Good job NYU. Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Oct 17, 2012 7:38:34 AM

Game theory, along with econ, math and science, is exactly what should be taught in 3rd year law to make up for all the STEM reasoning pre-laws have missed by their stopping at baby physics and baby math as college freshmen.

Posted by: Jimbino | Oct 17, 2012 7:57:55 AM

They (meaning law schools as a whole) will turn and writhe to avoid doing the two most obvious and necessary (but painful - finally, for *them* - things):

1) Come clean on the true graduate placement data (preferably going back 25 years)

2) As a result of #1, cut prices.

But that would entail sacrifice on *their* part - as opposed to slaughter on their students' part.

Better yet *another* generation be destroyed than the six-hour-workweek, six-figure-salary lifestyle be troubled.

And *these* are the people who lecture on ethics.

Posted by: cas127 | Oct 17, 2012 6:16:27 PM

Feeling inadequate Jimbino? Most reputable liberal arts programs include substantial, required helpings of Science and Math. I don't think Technology and Engineering (generally taught in schools of technology, rather than research universities, until the late 20th Century) help most lawyers, with the exception of patent lawyers (who may or may not properly be classified as lawyers in any event). On the other hand, non-liberal arts grads generally don't write very well, lack rhetorical skills, and tend to overuse plastic pocket protectors. You also might want to give some attention to your syntax. It reads a little Bushian.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Oct 18, 2012 7:35:15 AM